Reviews

LAST UPDATED:  February 16, 2021

The Best Bear Spray (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Keep grizzlies at bay with these effective, easy-to-use bear deterrents

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PUBLISHED ON February 16, 2021

That rustling in the trees you just heard should just be the dog, but the only problem is that you left the dog at home. It’s way too big for a chipmunk, and deer never make that much racket. The trees burst apart, and you find yourself wishing you’d picked up the can of bear spray. Suddenly, you realize it’s just your buddy coming back with way too much firewood and a slightly taunting grin on his face. You feel yourself turn and find yourself wishing even harder you hadn’t skipped that bear spray. Eventually, you move on and enjoy a star-studded night, but you’ve learned your lesson. It pays to be prepared, and the next time you two head into the backcountry together, you won’t be jumping at every sound in the brush.

Best Overall
 Sabre Frontiersman 9.2 Ounce Bear Spray
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Summary
Summary

This powerful bear deterrent is 50 percent more potent than pepper spray used by law enforcement, and it comes in a 9.2-ounce canister.

Pros
Pros
  • This option is effective for up to 30 feet 
  • Deploys 1.58 ounces of fog per one-second burst
  • Includes valuable training canister
Cons
Cons
  • Once deployed, the fog created by the spray may be disorienting for users lacking caution
Best Overall
 Sabre Frontiersman 9.2 Ounce Bear Spray
Best Value
Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray
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Summary
Summary

This Mace bear spray is EPA approved and produces a powerful, long-distance mist to deter bears and other aggressive creatures.

Pros
Pros
  • Spray time of six seconds
  • An effective range of 35 feet
  • Three-year shelf life 
  • Orange safety wedge is fast and easy to identify
Cons
Cons
  • Some users were disappointed with the spray range, although wind conditions may have been a negative factor
Best Value
Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray
Honorable Mention
Counter Assault Bear Deterrent
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Summary
Summary

This canister of American-made bear spray contains two percent capsaicin, temporarily burning nostrils and blinding eyes with incredible intensity.

Pros
Pros
  • Has a four-year shelf life
  • Can spray up to 32 feet
  • Effective against eight bear species
  • Includes a glow-in-the-dark safety and a holster
Cons
Cons
  • This particular offering is a bit more expensive than its competitors, although not by much
Honorable Mention
Counter Assault Bear Deterrent
Hand Holding Bear Spray
Amazon

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Benefits of Bear Spray

  • Does not cause fatalities. The bear’s humanity is maintained after bear spray deployment because the spray is not designed for bear fatalities. Symptoms of bear spray deployment include swelling and irritation of the mucous membranes of the bear’s eyes, nose, and lungs. These symptoms are also common for accidental deployment towards humans. 
  • Projects a barrier-forming fog. When deployed, bear sprays form a barrier-forming fog that temporarily disables a bear’s vision and smelling capabilities. This fog allows you to make a quick escape that can mean the difference between life and death. 
  • Overall peace of mind. Nature enthusiasts want to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining their safety. They also have respect for the territory of wild bears and strive to coexist with them during their wildlife excursions. Carrying bear spray gives outdoor enthusiasts the peace of mind that they will be protected from potential bear attacks.

Types of Bear Sprays

Capsaicin Based

All bear sprays are capsaicin based and stored in aerosol cans. Capsaicin is a colorless, crystalline, bitter compound that provides the intense spicing of cayenne peppers. This allows each bear spray the efficiency to temporarily disable a bear’s smell and vision while producing an equally intense burning sensation. These characteristics are designed to provide the spray deployer an efficient escape from any potentially dangerous situation.

Top Brands

Counter Assault

Founded in 1986 in Missoula, Mont., Counter Assault is a leading brand in bear repellent. It is used worldwide by outdoor professionals around the world. Its most notable product contains a canister holster for easy transport and storage. 

SABRE

This brand has been providing quality self-defense products for 45 years. They offer pepper sprays and other security devices that do not serve as a heat indicator. These products measure the amount of pepper in its formulation to maintain potency. 

Pricing

  • Under $40. Consumers can find single bear spray aerosol cans in this price range. These cans range in volume between three and nine ounces each. 
  • $40 and up. This price range contains multi-pack options of bear spray aerosol cans mentioned in the above-mentioned price range. This price range also features bear spray options that include holsters.

Key Features

Contains Capsaicin

All bear sprays are capsaicin based. Capsaicin is a bitter compound that is used as the basis for the spice of cayenne peppers. It is also a key component of bear spray. When deployed toward approaching bears, bear spray can temporarily take away a bear’s vision and sense of smell. 

Chest or Belt Holster

Each bear spray brand contains chest or belt holster options for easy storage or transport of your bear spray can. The chest and belt holster options come with an adjustable strap and snap-on buckle that accommodate any body type. The chest holster option allows for the flexibility to spray from any angle without taking the can out of the holster. This feature saves consumers precious seconds when confronted by an angry bear.

Other Considerations

  • Environmentally Efficient. Each capsaicin based bear spray is designed to temporarily disable a bear’s senses. It is not designed to cause death to the bear. Bear spray irritates a bear’s nose and mouth after deployment, providing endangered hikers a quick getaway. Bear spray accidentally deployed against another human will not cause fatal injury. Humans sprayed with the bear spray will experience intense burning of the eyes and throat for about thirty minutes. 
  • Testing and Efficiency. These products have been rigorously tested and approved by the EPA, as well as Health Canada. They have also been proven to be effective against all types of bears by the Elmendorf Air Force Base and Brown Bear Resources, Regardless of the species of bear you encounter, these bear spray options provide life-saving results in the wake of a possible confrontation.

Best Bear Spray Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall

Nature enthusiasts should always pack appropriately for every outing to defend against bear attacks. The Sabre Frontiersman 9.2 Ounce Bear Spray is a must-have companion for every outing. This spray provides 50 percent more potency than pepper spray used by law enforcement. It can be deployed from up to 35 feet, which is 15 feet greater than other bear deterrent options. This spray is not designed to permanently injure bears but to temporarily disable their senses of smell and vision, allowing users a quick escape. Sabre has been field-tested at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and by Brown Bear Resources and is both non-flammable and eco-friendly, containing no ozone-depleting chemicals. This 9.2 ounce provides the efficiency and eco-preserving qualities that every nature enthusiast demands from any bear spray option.


In windy or other adverse conditions, this spray could negatively affect the user as well as the bear.

Best Overall
SABRE Frontiersman 9.2 Ounce Bear Spray

Nature enthusiasts should always pack appropriately for every outing to defend against bear attacks. The Sabre Frontiersman 9.2 Ounce Bear Spray is a must-have companion for every outing. This spray provides 50 percent more potency than pepper spray used by law enforcement. It can be deployed from up to 35 feet, which is 15 feet greater than other bear deterrent options. This spray is not designed to permanently injure bears but to temporarily disable their senses of smell and vision, allowing users a quick escape. Sabre has been field-tested at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and by Brown Bear Resources and is both non-flammable and eco-friendly, containing no ozone-depleting chemicals. This 9.2 ounce provides the efficiency and eco-preserving qualities that every nature enthusiast demands from any bear spray option.


In windy or other adverse conditions, this spray could negatively affect the user as well as the bear.

Best Value

Effective bear sprays can be a bit expensive, but the Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray is both affordable and effective. This bear spray power fogger is created and sold by Mace, the same name trusted by law enforcement for their pepper spray. The canister empties in six seconds, providing ample time for a safe getaway, and the fog has a range of up to 35 feet. This bear-specific formula is approved by and registered with the EPA to make sure that self-defense in the wild won’t have a negative effect on the environment. It has an effective temperature range of 32 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the orange safety wedge on each canister of Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray is easy to identify quickly in an emergency.


Some users have said they were disappointed with this bear spray’s range, although wind conditions may have been a negative factor.

Best Value
Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray

Effective bear sprays can be a bit expensive, but the Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray is both affordable and effective. This bear spray power fogger is created and sold by Mace, the same name trusted by law enforcement for their pepper spray. The canister empties in six seconds, providing ample time for a safe getaway, and the fog has a range of up to 35 feet. This bear-specific formula is approved by and registered with the EPA to make sure that self-defense in the wild won’t have a negative effect on the environment. It has an effective temperature range of 32 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the orange safety wedge on each canister of Mace Maximum Strength Bear Spray is easy to identify quickly in an emergency.


Some users have said they were disappointed with this bear spray’s range, although wind conditions may have been a negative factor.

Premium Pick

Nature enthusiasts want to be able to enjoy the great outdoors without fear of confrontations with wild bears. The Counter Assault Bear Deterrent provides the security you need to enjoy a bear-free outdoor experience. It has a seven-second spray to provide thorough coverage for every bear encounter. This deterrent also provides spraying efficiency that covers up to 32 feet, providing effective coverage at any campground. The spray comes in 8.1-ounce cans containing two percent capsaicin. Its composition is designed to temporarily disable a bear’s vision and smelling capabilities, allowing for a quick escape. Counter Assault is tested for leak quality and has a four-year shelf life for long-term backcountry security. Outdoor enthusiasts turn to Counter Assault Bear Deterrent for quality insulation from potential bear confrontations.


Compared to its competitors, this bear spray is a little expensive per ounce. Then again, it is incredibly effective.

Premium Pick
Counter Assault Bear Deterrent

Nature enthusiasts want to be able to enjoy the great outdoors without fear of confrontations with wild bears. The Counter Assault Bear Deterrent provides the security you need to enjoy a bear-free outdoor experience. It has a seven-second spray to provide thorough coverage for every bear encounter. This deterrent also provides spraying efficiency that covers up to 32 feet, providing effective coverage at any campground. The spray comes in 8.1-ounce cans containing two percent capsaicin. Its composition is designed to temporarily disable a bear’s vision and smelling capabilities, allowing for a quick escape. Counter Assault is tested for leak quality and has a four-year shelf life for long-term backcountry security. Outdoor enthusiasts turn to Counter Assault Bear Deterrent for quality insulation from potential bear confrontations.


Compared to its competitors, this bear spray is a little expensive per ounce. Then again, it is incredibly effective.

Honorable Mention

Looking for some serious protection against big bears? Then pick up some Guard Alaska Bear Repellent from the state that knows its bears. This 9-ounce canister contains bear spray with a total capsaicinoid formula of 1.34 percent and can deliver up to nine seconds of spray time for maximum protection. The fogger nozzle can deliver its payload to distances between 15 and 20 feet away. This bear repellant was tested intensively in the Alaskan wilderness over the course of six years in order to perfect the final product. Despite its power and effectiveness against all bear species, it is also safe for the environment according to the EPA. In fact, Guard Alaska Bear Repellent is the only EPA-approved bear spray to prove effective against all bear species.


The biggest concern with this bear spray is its relatively limited range.

Honorable Mention
Guard Alaska Bear Repellent

Looking for some serious protection against big bears? Then pick up some Guard Alaska Bear Repellent from the state that knows its bears. This 9-ounce canister contains bear spray with a total capsaicinoid formula of 1.34 percent and can deliver up to nine seconds of spray time for maximum protection. The fogger nozzle can deliver its payload to distances between 15 and 20 feet away. This bear repellant was tested intensively in the Alaskan wilderness over the course of six years in order to perfect the final product. Despite its power and effectiveness against all bear species, it is also safe for the environment according to the EPA. In fact, Guard Alaska Bear Repellent is the only EPA-approved bear spray to prove effective against all bear species.


The biggest concern with this bear spray is its relatively limited range.

Tips

  • After deploying bear spray, do not run towards the bear. It’s best to walk briskly in the direction opposite the bear’s location as the spray incapacitates the bear for up to 30 minutes.

FAQs

Q: What is the most effective bear spray?

The most effective spray is the option that can spray from the greatest distance. Bears can run up to 35 miles per hour, making it imperative to have the ability to spray from a great distance.

Q: What is stronger bear spray or pepper spray?

Pepper spray has a slightly stronger concentration of capsaicin, containing about a two percent concentration compared to one percent concentration for bear spray.

Q: What will bear spray do to a human?

Bear spray will cause a burning sensation to a human’s eyes, nose, and throat when deployed. However, it will not cause fatality.

Q: Will bear spray blind a human?

Bear spray can cause temporary blindness to a human because it contains oleoresin capsicum, the same active ingredient that pepper spray contains.

Final Thoughts

To incapacitate any bear, opt for the Counter Assault bear spray. For a cheaper but highly potent option, consider the SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray